Kamal Musallam interview

Kamal Musallam has joined forces with Mostyn Rischmueller on Ray-Ban’s #Campaign4Change project

Kuwaiti artist Kamal Musallam has joined forces with Australian DJ and producer Mostyn Rischmueller on Ray-Ban’s #Campaign4Change project.

Kamal Musallam is one of the region’s leading fusion artists. The Kuwaiti-born Jordanian musician is known for his unique sound, mixing Arabic melodies with western rock, jazz and pop, and has performed at prestigious events around the region including the Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi.

Having lived in the UAE since 2002, Musallam now spends less of his time performing locally – instead touring and playing at international music festival across Europe and Asia. ‘Travelling inspires me. When I go to Indonesia or India, I’m affected by the experiences and it inspires me to write music. I want people to take a journey with me, as if I am the pilot and they are the passengers. I like to transport people to a better place with my music,’ Musallam explains.

Having recently paired up with Australian Dubai-based music producer and DJ Mostyn Rischmueller on Ray-Ban’s #Campaign4Change – a project which saw the duo fusing traditional acoustic elements with electronic sounds to develop a new track ‘Mixed4Change’ – Musallam is now working on releasing two new albums. The first, is a double CD featuring tracks from his previous albums due to be released in October; the second a collaborative record that will feature international artists from the UK, Korea, the Middle East and Italy. Set to be released sometime in November, East Mania merges musical cultures and traditions of the East and the West and will consist of ten to 13 tracks. ‘I’m inspired by stories that I hear, and nature. When you go to Europe it’s so different from Asia or Africa so all that affects my thinking and my perceptions. I see the world as a big painting and I translate it into melodies and sounds if I can.’

Inspired by the travels of Arab scholar Ibn Battuta, who is best known as a traveller and explorer and whose journeys covered almost the entire Islamic world and beyond, the album features American drummer Billy Cobham, German bassist Kai Eckhardt, Syrian singer Rasha Rizk, Indonesian artist Dwiki Dharmawan and Arabic performer Nasser Salameh.

Growing up, the musician listened to Arabic classical music and ’70s pop such as Abba and Julio Iglesias. Other genres include Spanish and Latin music including tango, flamenco and Bossa Nova. He credits artists like Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, George Benson, John McLaughlin, and Al Di Meola as influences.

While music has always been a passion for Musallam, he spent his early career working as an architect across Jordan, Lebanon and France. ‘I wasn’t happy in my career, music was with me all the time and it was killing my music side. I had no time to practise my instrument or to create so I decided to quit and shift to the music business,’ he says.

And so he decided to establish his own label, K&G Productions and went on to produce his first album On a Jordan Rivers Side in 2003. ‘I was so passionate and driven by my heart and it came out nice,’ he says. ‘I did struggle for a few years to build up a name and recognition but then from 2005 things started to pick up. I’m travelling to so many countries now and I’ve done so many records.’

East Mania, which was made in more than five countries and has taken almost five years to complete, is Kamal’s seventh record to date. ‘It carries the same message that I started with in 1999. I’ve always wanted to carry a message of hope and love and seeing the world in a different way.

I try to avoid sadness or troubles or negativity. My music should carry something new, fresh, and positive to make people happier.

Before putting the finishing touches to the East Mania project, Kamal will travel to Milan, Germany and Paris to perform at a series of cultural events. ‘There’s a price to being a recording artist,’ he says. ‘You need to have full dedication and put all your time, money and focus on how to make and release music and play live all around the world. But it’s enough for me to see a few faces smiling and enjoying my music. That’s success for me, I’m flying high.’
Kamal Musallam’s music is available at Virgin Megastores and online at www.musallam.com.

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